Audubon Florida urges the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board to support a land exchange with Palm Beach County to acquire a parcel of land that will be used to help restore the Loxahatchee River, one of Florida’s wild and scenic rivers.
The Loxahatchee River, which meanders through a variety of creeks in Northern Palm Beach County and empties into the Atlantic Ocean through the Jupiter Inlet, is one of two federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida. A variety of endangered and threatened species call this slow moving river their home, including endangered Wood Storks and Sandhill Cranes. Nearby Grassy Waters Preserve is home to a population of endangered Everglade Snail Kites.
The parcel of land that the SFWMD would gain through the exchange is Mecca Farms , 1,920 acres of land in Palm Beach County. This land will play a key role in the Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project, an Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) project. The purpose of this project is to capture, store and treat excess water that is currently discharged to the Lake Worth Lagoon and use that water to enhance the Loxahatchee River and Slough and provide for water supplies to the West Palm Beach Water Catchment Area. Click here to learn more about the project.
This land exchange is the product of creative problem solving on the part of SFWMD staff. Previously, the CERP project would have had water storage through the L-8 reservoir in Palm Beach County. However, because of the L-8’s location and size, the SFWMD was able to utilize it as a key component in the Everglades Water Quality Plan. The land on Mecca Farms will be able to help store the water the CERP project needs to nourish these ecosystems.
Audubon is at the today’s SFWMD meeting and is advocating for this step toward protecting and restoring the Loxahatchee River, our wild and scenic river.
**Update – The Mecca Farms land exchange passed UNANIMOUSLY on August 9, 2012!